Four Introductions to Madeleine Barnes

By Bryn Dodson

When she was eleven, Madeleine Barnes’ parents revealed that she was an accident and that in a world of more reliable contraceptives she would not exist. She is now a poet. She lives in Brooklyn.

Madeleine Barnes grew up with a blue parakeet named Roxy that lived in a cage against a backdrop of sky-blue wallpaper decorated with clouds. She is now a poet. She lives in Brooklyn.

In third grade Madeleine Barnes brought four small fish to Show & Tell in a Tupperware container. When she told the class their names, they asked how she could tell the difference between them and she realized, with horror, that she could not. She is now a poet. She lives in Brooklyn.

In third grade, and even when Madeleine Barnes was eleven, the sky appeared as a searing blue aquarium in which creatures might live which could not be visualized by her classmates or parents or anyone else, creatures which might be blue in color or perhaps blue in some more subtle outlook or sentiment that made them (even if they were not blue themselves) utterly sympathetic to the color they inhabited and elusive to the eye unless, by accident (caused perhaps by unreliable contraceptives) the sky yielded an outline of four small fish in a cage, swimmers to whose bodies the scattering of blue light in air was as solid as the earth was for Madeleine Barnes as she realized, with horror, that she knew the names really for nothing, that where there had been a Tupperware container, a parakeet, or sky-blue wallpaper decorated with clouds now there were only squeaks and sounds, and if she herself might not have existed what right did she have to assign all the names, and how could she tell the difference between them, and she could not Tell, & could not Show, and these thoughts made a clean west wind of her childhood which lifted her over this brilliant and infuriating sky, depositing her in Brooklyn with a handful of poems.

Born and raised in Perth, Western Australia, Bryn Dodson is a graduate of New York University’s creative writing program, where he was a finalist for the Axinn Foundation/E.L. Doctorow fellowship. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in [PANK], Westerly, Sky Island Journal, Subnivean, and elsewhere. He works at a digital agency, co-organizes New York City’s Lunar Walk poetry reading series, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Art by Lesley C. Weston (Mixed media)

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